The Guildford Book Festival last week was full of good things for writers and poets. This year, I think for the first time, performance poetry and spoken word found a place in the Festival, in the creative atmosphere of the Boileroom. The event’s dynamic organiser, Toni-Amanda Coe, invited us to the Poetry Jam on Tuesday 13th October, and we accepted with enthusiasm.
The Boileroom is a great venue for spoken word, with a stage set apart from the bar area allowing the audience to listen to the performers without straining to hear their words over bar transactions, and good sound and lighting systems. It’s perfect for the size of audience that poetry and spoken word attracts. Its intimate atmosphere was just right for last Tuesday’s Poetry Jam.
The standard of the four performers on the bill was excellent. Spud Smith, a talented young actor and writer, brought the witty poems of Ogden Nash to life, and went on to perform three of his own poems. “The Seven” was a striking piece about the elements and their symbolic meanings in human life. Spud’s performance was remarkably professional and engaged his audience on many levels.
Timothy Buckler gave a fascinating illustrated talk on the history of comic books. His knowledge was wide and his enthusiasm infectious as he spoke about the art of illustrated story-telling from cave paintings through Hogan’s Alley and Buck Rogers to the Beano and Action Comics, up to the present day. He had an engaging, laid-back style and an excellent presentation of slide illustrations that had everyone hanging on his words. We thoroughly enjoyed the talk. You can contact Tim @BlockbusterMan.
Otis Mensah is a young story-teller-rapper-poet with a mesmerising delivery and a talent for drawing the poetic from the everyday happenings in his life. “That’s just me” was ironic and honest, humorous and touching. I was so engaged in listening to catch all his words above the rhythmic background that I forgot to take notes, but his refrain “Your soul is gold” stays with me, and so does his list of girlfriends and their particular personalities. He’s a talented writer.
Jasmine, from Reading, was performing as Igoe at the Boileroom for the first time together with her three musician friends. The quartet performed a set of Igoe’s poems, set to musical backing with some passionate drum solos. “In Between”, “Nameless” and her other poems of love and loss were warmly received by the audience. “Have I been leading a life or have I been following one?” was the phrase that stuck in my mind from Igoe’s set.
This was a great evening of young emerging spoken word talent and I’m looking forward to the opportunity that the Boileroom has offered us, to follow up with FREE THE POETRY on November 8th. This will be an open mic opportunity for writers and performers of all levels of experience. We have two brilliant guest features: The Dirty Carols and Dan Smith. And we’re hoping to see lots of open mic readers, who will have the opportunity to read or perform up to 5 minutes each.
In last Tuesday’s audience there were quite a few potential readers – so we’d like to encourage them to come back and FREE THE POETRY on Sunday 8th November. Sign up on the night at this free event, and let everyone enjoy sharing and listening! Doors open at 7pm.